Obama Moves On Minimum Wage Without Congress

By:  Dave Jamieson

As part of the president's pledge to act with or without the cooperation of Congress, the White House and Labor Department on Thursday released the details of a new rule guaranteeing workers under federal contracts a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.

The proposal is expected to raise the wages of hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers employed in government buildings and on federal lands throughout the country. Though still subject to a public comment period, officials said Thursday that the rule will apply to new and renewed federal contracts starting in January 2015.

"The federal government should practice what it preaches on the minimum wage," Labor Secretary Tom Perez said on a call with reporters. "No person who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty."

The president first announced he'd raise the minimum wage for contract workers during his State of the Union address earlier this year. The contract rule was part of a batch of executive orders he's issued related to the economy in recent months, vowing to act within his own powers as congressional Republicans stand in the way of the Democratic agenda.

That agenda includes an increase in the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 and hasn't been raised since 2009. Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate have proposed raising it to $10.10 per hour and tying it to an inflation index. House Republicans, however, have showed no signs of giving the proposal a vote, while Democrats in the Senate still appear short of a filibuster-proof majority on their bill.

Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House's domestic policy council, said the executive order would raise wages on military bases, national park lands and in veterans nursing homes, among other places. The minimum wage will apply to workers throughout the subcontracting chain, whether or not their direct employers hold the federal contract.

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